The queen of the Earnhardt family, Martha “Mamaw” Earnhardt, has died, according to family members. She was 91. Kelley Earnhardt Miller and Dale Earnhardt Jr. announced their grandmother died Dec. 25 in a joint statement. Martha was the wife of Ralph and mother of Dale Sr., Danny Sr. Randy, Cathy, and Kaye.
“It is with great sadness that we share the news that Martha Earnhardt passed away Christmas evening. As we grieve her loss and begin to imagine life without our beloved ‘Mamaw,’ we find solace in knowing she is at peace in eternal glory and in joyous reunion with her husband Ralph and sons Dale, Randy, and Danny,” the family statement read.
“Please keep our family in your thoughts and prayers and thank you so much for loving our ‘Mamaw’ as if she were your own. She was not just the matriarch to our family, but she was the matriarch to multiple generations of race fans.”
Who is Martha Earnhardt?
Martha Earnhardt worked as a waitress and as a clerk at a children's store. She was the fixture in the Kannapolis community both as a local and as someone who welcomed traveling race fans touring the "Dale Trail" of racing landmarks around Cabarrus County. And through it all, the queen remained a beloved figure.
“On behalf of the France Family and all of NASCAR, we extend our condolences to the family and friends of Martha Earnhardt,” stated Jim France and Lesa France Kennedy in an official NASCAR statement. “Martha was not only the matriarch of a legendary NASCAR family, but a beloved and respected figure within our industry and throughout the fanbase. We will dearly miss her grace, compassion, and welcoming demeanor. To her grandchildren, she was ‘Mamaw.’ To millions of NASCAR fans, she was a treasure.”
Martha Earnhardt did try her hand at racing in a “powder puff derby” race for women at Hickory Speedway. She crashed — expressing the lack of training before the event. “That was my one and only,” she stated. “… It didn’t work. I just wasn’t meant to be a race-car driver.”
While become a race car driver wasn’t part of the plan, Martha Earnhardt was a comforting influence who contrasted with Dale Earnhardt’s on-track intimidator persona — Dale Earnhardt Jr. noted during his grandmother’s 2019 appearance on the Dale Jr. Download podcast. “She mellowed him,” Earnhardt Jr. stated as the two shared memories from Dale Earnhardt’s rise to iconic status in the world of stock-car racing.
Kannapolis Community of Racing Fans
Kannapolis is a city in Cabarrus and Rowan counties, in the U.S. state of North Carolina, northwest of Concord and northeast of Charlotte and is a suburb in the Charlotte metropolitan area.
Martha was active in the racing community and the Kannapolis community. The mayor of Kannapolis, Darrell Hinnant, released a message about her death, “We are saddened to hear of the passing of Mrs. Martha Earnhardt. In addition to being the matriarch of a legendary racing family she was a treasured member of our community. This was evidenced a few years ago when she was named the Kannapolis Christmas Parade Grand Marshal and thousands showed up to honor her. If you dropped by her home you were always welcomed as if you were one of her family members that she loved so dearly. She would give you updates on all her children and their families and would want to ensure all was well with you. On behalf of the City of Kannapolis we offer our deepest condolences to her family. She will be greatly missed.”